Collab365 MicroJobs: I will build you a Dev Farm in Azure

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If you’re struggling to find help or keep up to date with Microsoft SharePoint then I will build you a basic SharePoint 2013/2016/2019 Dev farm in Azure.

I am now a registered Freelancer on Collab365 MicroJobs – the brand new marketplace dedicated to Microsoft professionals.

Here are 4 reasons that the Collab365 Team have spent months building the site:

  1. You often need expert Microsoft help just for a couple of hours.
  2. You can’t keep up with everything Microsoft is releasing.
  3. You find it hard to find Microsoft experts on other non-dedicated sites. There are just too many other subjects covered.
  4. You don’t have time to go through a lengthy interview process.

I personally love the concept and have actually just posted a MicroJob. Here are the details…

How I can help you …


Building out a SharePoint farm to use as a Dev/Test environment can be a long tedious process.  It also usually requires hardware resources that aren\’t always available.  Using Azure you can spin up new VMs relatively quickly, but installing and configuring SharePoint can still take a significant amount of time.  There are pre-built Azure templates, but these often don\’t provide the flexibility needed to configure a specific environment.
Using a combination of PowerShell and Desired State Configuration (DSC) we will design and build a basic  server farm consisting of three (3) virtual machines (AD, SQL, and SharePoint) to your specifications.  The farm will include the following:

  • One (1) Active Directory domain controller configured to the domain name of your choice containing ten (10) Service accounts to support installation of SQL and SharePoint
  • One (1) SQL server configured using a domain service account to support SharePoint
  • One (1) SharePoint 2013, 2016 or 2019 server
  • Up to three (3) Web Applications
  • Up to ten (10) Site Collections
  • Core Service Applications (Application Management, Managed Metadata, Search, Secure Store, State, Subscription Settings,  Usage, & User Profile)

Not included:

  • Configuration of Office 365 hybrid
  • Configuration of SQL reporting services
  • Configuration of Office Online Server

How does it work and what about payment?
Paying for online services with people that you don’t know can be worrying for both parties. The buyer often doesn’t want to pay until they’re happy that the Freelancer has completed the work. Likewise the Freelancer wants to be sure they will be recompensed for their time and commitment. Collab365 MicroJobs helps both the buyer and the Freelancer in these ways:

  1. The buyer pays up front and the money is securely held in the MicroJobs Stripe Connect platform account.
  2. The Freelancer can then begin the work in the knowledge that the payment has been made.
  3. Once the buyer is happy that the work is complete and to their satisfaction, the funds become available to the Freelancer.
  4. There’s even a dispute management function in case of a disagreement. But it won’t on my MicroJob! As long as we agree what’s needed up front and keep talking the entire way through, you won’t be disappointed.

Note: Once I’ve completed the work, I’d love it if you could write a review for me. This will allow others to see what a fantastic job I did for you.
What if we need to add extra’s to the job after I’ve started?
It’s really easy for us to discuss your extra requirement (using the chat feature on the site) and for us to agree a price and add it to the order.
If you’d like me to help you, here are the steps to hire me …

  1. View my MicroJob.
  2. On that page click the “Buy” button.
  3. You’ll need to register as a buyer on the MicroJobs site, but this only takes a minute and will also allow you to purchase MicroJobs from other awesome Freelancers.

If you need to contact me then please use the “contact” button and ask me any questions before purchasing.

Re-awarded as an MVP for the 11th Year

MVP_Logo_Secondary_Blue288_RGB_300ppiFor the last 10 years July 1st has always been a day that I both looked forward to and dreaded.  I’ve looked forward to it because its anniversary of the day that I was awarded the honor of being named as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for the first time. But I’ve also dreaded it.  Because no matter how many presentations you’ve made or how much you’ve answered questions on the forums or active you’ve been in the community, you always wonder if its been enough. But then sometime around mid-day the email arrives saying that you have been re-awarded for another year as an MVP.  That email arrived for me today around 11:40 AM (9:40 AM Redmond time). So for the 11th year Microsoft has decided that my contributions to the SharePoint and Office 365 community were sufficient to earn  me an MVP award again for the category of “Office Servers and Services”. 

But this coming year will be a little different than previous years because I plan to move towards partial retirement from my consulting career. Before you get the idea that I’ll be less involved as an MVP, think again. Being an MVP has always been about your contributions to the technical community over and above your regular job. So in the past I often took vacation time to speak at conferences or spent time on the forums before and after work.  Since I won’t be focusing on “earning a paycheck” anymore I’ll be able to devote even more time to community activities. I’m expecting my contributions to the community will go up as I move to retirement, not fade away.

So, I make this offer to Community Leaders

If you are looking for a SharePoint or Office 365 speaker for your event, and you can help me defray travel expenses, I will be willing to travel almost anywhere, at anytime to share what I have learned over the years.

SharePoint, Office 365, and Dynamics CRM are subjects that I’m passionate about. And my moving towards retirement is just a partial thing. I still plan to continue to do consulting and training for many years to come. If consulting/training opportunities come my way I will continue to work. Because that’s now I keep learning new things. But if paying jobs don’t happen to come my way then I’ll live off my retirement savings and spend even more time speaking and answering questions. 

So here’s to another year as an MVP. I think it will be an exciting one.

Fix for: Can’t Connect to Azure VM via RDP

RDP errI use Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) a lot for demos and testing.  Recently when I tried to connect to some of my VMs using remote desktop I got a error message.  The message read “An authentication error has occurred. The function requested is not supported.”  Researching this error on the Internet led me to a security update applied to Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 that was rolled out on April 17, 2018.  This update includes an update for the Remote Desktop Client (RDP) to fix a CredSSP authentication protocol vulnerability.  After the update is applied you can no longer RDP to any machine that isn’t fully updated.  My problem was that my Windows 10 laptop had been updated, but my Azure VMs had not been updated.

I’ve seen several fixes on the Internet to workaround this problem temporarily using registry settings or Group Policy Objects (GPO). Unfortunately, the only Active Directory server involved was also on Windows Server 2016, so there was no way to attach to it make registry changes or modify GPO settings. But I was able to find another workaround that let me access the affected servers via RDP so that I could update them.

The Solution

The trick was to find a server or workstation that hadn’t been updated yet. In my case I had a local Windows 8.1 Hyper-V VM that I hadn’t updated in a while.  Using that I was able to access the affected VMs and run Windows Update.  Once the update was applied I could RDP into them from my Windows 10 laptop.

I also found that I could still RDP from my iPhone to the affected servers to apply the update.  I admit that the screen size is pretty small and difficult to work with, but it is possible.  So if you don’t have a workstation or server that hasn’t been upgraded recently you can try to RDP in from your non-Microsoft phone.  Note: I didn’t try using Android, but I assume it will also work.

Presentation to Cincinnati SPUG: Protecting Your Content with SharePoint DLP

security and compliance centerLast week I presented a talk to the Cincinnati SharePoint User’s Group entitled, “Protecting your Content: Demystifying Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
in SharePoint 2016
”. I couldn’t make it to the user group in person, but they were nice enough to let me present it via Skype. At the end of the talk I promised to post my slides.

You can download a read only copy of the slides from the talk using the link below:

Protecting your Content: Demystifying Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

SharePoint Fest – DC Wrap-up & Slides

My wife and I really enjoyed our visit to Washington DC last week.  The conference attendees were great and both my sessions and workshop were well attended.  It was a pleasure to feel that I was sharing information that people really wanted to learn about.  The week was even better because at night we got to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law, and 6 month old granddaughter.  Getting to present at a conference and spend time with family and friends is a great combination.

I promised to make my slides available, so I’ve uploaded them here.  They are also available on the SharePoint Fest DC site for attendees.  If you have any follow-up questions please email me at pstork@dontpapanic.com.  You can download a copy of the slides from each talk using the links below:

WS 203 – Office 365 Feature Explosion: What should you be using

ADM 105 – Protecting your Content: Demystifying Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in SharePoint

BV 204 – Implementing SharePoint: Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

SPT 202 – Ensuring Business Continuity: Planning for High Availability and Disaster Recovery in SharePoint